De Guindos to be next ECB vice president

Spain's Finance Minister Luis de Guindos is to become the new vice president of the European Central Bank, the 19 Eurozone finance ministers have agreed. Some believe that the decision, which once again gives the position of vice president to a Southern European, increases the likelihood of Jens Weidmann, president of the Deutsche Bundesbank, becoming head of the ECB in 2019. But it's by no means certain that de Guindos will defend the interests of the Southern European euro countries, commentators note.

Open/close all quotes
Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Jostling for Draghi's succession has begun

With de Guindos's nomination Europe's leaders are getting ready for the post-Draghi era, Il Sole 24 Ore is convinced:

“Germany is claiming the post [of ECB chief] for itself on the grounds that it is now its turn. It's no secret that Jens Weidmann, former advisor to Angela Merkel and consequently close to her policies, is preparing to take over from Super Mario in November 2019. The EU finance ministers and leaders with whom the decision lies apparently find it wise to play one of their trumps as a stop-gap measure and appoint an experienced politician as vice president. His job is so to speak to act as a counterweight to Jens Weidmann, who is no less experienced or competent, but is nevertheless a hardliner with a somewhat rigid way of seeing things.”

El País (ES) /

Hopefully not a hardliner

El País's response to the news of de Guindos's appointment is only moderately enthusiastic:

“Hopefully we who have supported de Guindos's candidacy (albeit not without criticism) - precisely because Spain has been under-represented so far - won't regret this later on. Hopefully when it comes to adjusting the ECB's current expansive policy the vice president will push for a soft approach in withdrawing the stimulus rather than backing Wolfgang Schäuble's more orthodox and rigid proposals - as he did in the Eurogroup. Because this will decide whether the rising interest rates for the debt accumulated by the Economics Ministry under his leadership will impede Spain’s growth.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Bubbles could burst any time now

For De Volkskrant the decision provides an occasion to take stock of the challenges facing the ECB:

“Under Draghi's leadership the bank bought up so much debt that its balance sheet swelled to an astronomic 4.5 trillion euros. That policy entails very high risks. Everywhere the low interest rates and huge cash injections have resulted in financial bubbles that could burst at any moment: the economy is addicted to the low interest rates, and raising them once more won't be an easy undertaking. ... There are no simple solutions, but the risks of the current policy must be reduced. Now that the economy is up and running again it's high time to turn off the money tap and allow a slight rise in interest rates.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Another totally undemocratic procedure

L'Echo would like to see the introduction of a more democratic procedure for selecting candidates for such high-ranking EU posts:

“The MEPs have nothing more than an advisory role. At a time when the EU is looking for the right formula to bring its institutions closer to the people, it could add the following question to its equation: why shouldn't the Parliament have a veto right on such nominations? Then its ideas would be taken seriously, and the legitimation of the ECB leadership would no longer be based solely on the Eurogroup, the black box of European democracy.”